Journalist Jane Gerster interviewed Luke’s Place and other women’s advocates/services about Bill 207 and its impact on women, as well as the importance of programs like the Family Court Support Worker Program in supporting women through the complex family law system.
Advocates such as Pamela Cross, legal director at Luke’s Place, an Oshawa-based family-law support centre that focuses on women fleeing domestic violence, say that Bill 207 is a largely a positive and decisive step forward. But she and others worry that the legislation — which will bring Ontario into alignment with changes to the federal Divorce Act — doesn’t go far enough in preventing family violence.
In a lengthy briefing note, Cross, the lead trainer for Ontario’s Family Court Support Workers Program, recommends 15 amendments.
“Even as we applaud much of Bill 207,” the note reads, “we believe it can and should go farther to ensure that post-separation arrangements for children in cases involving family violence keep both children and their mothers safe.”
Cross says that the bill contains vague language and that “vagueness is a gift to an abuser.”
In particular, she notes a section clarifying that each parent with parenting time allocated by the courts has “exclusive authority” to make day-to-day decisions during their time. Advocates, though, would like to see “exclusive authority” removed from the bill, which, they say, should state clearly that day-to-day decisions must not conflict with decisions made by the parent with the primary responsibility for decision-making.